My new bacon & eggs- Hong Kong style!

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Having lived in Hong Kong for a couple of years, I got to know what was good to eat.  The mix of cuisines is incredible in HK and there’s no telling what you might end up eating if you go wandering.  I wandered.  I ate.  Some dishes stood out.  This is one of those dishes.

Barbecued pork (char sui) is everywhere in Hong Kong.  The soy sauce seasons the pork beautifully and it pops up in a variety of dishes.  One of my favourites was actually one of the first things that I ate upon arriving there.  Not sure what to order in a local spot (in Prince Edward), I pointed to a photograph on the menu of what looked like scrambled eggs and pork.  When it came to the table, I knew there was no going back.  It was beautiful!  Soft eggs, tender char sui and a sprinkling of chopped spring onions.  It was gone before I knew what happened.  Suffice to say that I was a regular after that and only recently did I decide to revisit that dish in my own kitchen.

Belly pork makes your weekend scrambled eggs something special and it’s a fun alternative to what you might normally cook up.  Check it out and see if you want to indulge.

Scrambled eggs & char sui.

400g sliced belly pork

fresh eggs (I use at least 4)

2 spring onions (sliced)

2 tblspoons salted butter

2 tblspoons honey

2 tblspoons dark sauce sauce

3 tspoons Chinese 5 spice

Olive oil

Sea salt

Preheat your oven to 180C and coat the pork slices with a little olive oil.  Don’t use too much- belly pork is fatty enough and when this renders, your baking tray will become filled with too much liquid.  Cook the pork for 30-40 minutes turning once.  The next step is to glaze the pork to add flavour and make it look appetising.

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Mix the soy sauce, honey and five spice together and brush onto the pork.  Put the pork under a grill on medium heat and add more glaze as it begins to crisp up the outer edges.  Try not to burn the pork- instead, turn the slices and continue to brush more glaze on.  You should end up with tender pork covered in a sweet glaze.  Sprinkle a little sea salt on if you need extra seasoning.  Leave the pork to cool slightly while you cook the eggs.

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First things first: scrambled eggs should be made slowly.  If you want soft, buttery eggs, you have to spend some time cooking them gently.  Lot’s of butter.  Low heat.  I always use lots of butter, but you should make it to your won taste.  Heat the butter in a pan on the lowest heat until it is bubbling and turning to foam.  Beat the eggs and pour them in.  Use a wooden spatula to gently move the eggs so that they don’t stick to the bottom.  Try not to keep stirring.  Allow the eggs to set slightly before moving them.

As the eggs begin to come together, throw in some sliced spring onions and finish stirring.  It’s best to take the eggs off the heat early so that they don’t dry out, but remain on the runny side.

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Chop the pork into nice chunks and stir into the eggs before serving.  Simple, but satisfying.

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Admittedly, I didn’t have spring onions on the day I photographed this, but it tasted great regardless.  Having just treated myself to some fantastic Reebok Ventilators, I had a jar of SNS honey from Stockholme which came free with the shoes.  This was the perfect recipe to use it in and I was really pleased with the results.  My new weekend breakfast favourite and a great way to take myself back to Hong Kong memories.

HKday 047

 

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Dear Dimitri, how dare you criticise British barbecuing prowess (or lack thereof)!

I love barbecue.  It’s a shame that I live in England, then.  The weather permits very little (successful) outdoor cooking and despite the best efforts of many a barbecue enthusiast, I’ve never enjoyed anything prepared outdoors in this country.  The fact is, we’re clueless when it comes to cooking meat anywhere other than the safety of the kitchen.

Tip-toe over the pond and it’s a whole different story.  Barbecue is an art and America has no shortage of towns and cities with a claim to being the home of the best barbecue in the land.  This doesn’t deter Brits from donning comedy aprons and dragging out the rusty grill at the first sign of sunshine.  No, sir!  Phonecalls are made, beer is bought and determined individuals set about preparing the area they’ll use to either cremate or under-cook a selection of poor quality meats.  Hours later and the reason why “we don’t do this very often” is clear to all.

Food companies are not deterred by inept British barbecuing either.  They thrive on it!  Sauces, marinades, sprays, sprinkles, seasoned crumbs, flavoured salt, posh pepper and a host of other flavour enhancers are widely available to mask the food-poisoning-between-bread that’s being served up.

You won’t find anything like that in my cupboard, though.  I make my rub from scratch.  Yes, sir!  Today I made a fantastic rub that is perfect for pork.  Of course, it was my good ol’ griddle that made the party go with a sizzle and not a rusty wire rack over some coals.  Still, the taste was superb and from now on, I don’t think I’ll be putting anything else on pork loin steaks!

Dimitri’s dry rub (for pork)

1 tblspoon light brown sugar

1 tblspoon coriander seeds

1 tblspoon smoked paprika

2 tspoons garlic salt

1 tspoon ground black pepper

1 tspoon ground cumin powder

half tspoon cayenne pepper

 This is a job for the pestle and mortar.  A coffee or spice grinder will probably do a good job too.  I began by toasting the coriander seeds in a dry pan until they just started to brown and release their wonderful flavour (which is nothing like the fragrant herb that they grow into).  I then ground all the ingredients to a fine powder and tipped the rub into a medium-sized bowl.

 I cut some pork loin steaks into cubes and tossed them in the powder before grilling on skewers.  I got equally good results with whole pork loin steaks cooked the same way:  A smoking hot griddle with a few minutes on each side to ensure succulence and a good char on the outside.

This rub is intended for meat that will be cooked immediately.  It’s not too sweet and not too spicy.  Perfect for summer!  Oh, and if you were wondering, no, my barbecuing prowess is sadly lacking.  I’ll keep to my griddle, thank you very much.

Use your loaf (tin).

I trust your Christmas was filled with family, joy and inevitable chaos.  Mine too, hence the late post.  Despite the passing of the big day, I’m going to share the recipe for my very own pork and apricot terrine.  It’s perfect for a buffet and I make one (sometimes two) every Christmas.

You can easily adapt this recipe so that your own Christmas flavours are represented.

Pork & apricot terrine

500g sausage meat

14 slices streaky bacon

14 dried apricots

1 egg

2 tblspoons ground black pepper

1 tblspoon fresh thyme (chopped)

a pinch of ground allspice

a pinch of mace

a pinch of cinnamon

plenty of sea salt for seasoning to taste

olive oil

You have to admire the humble loaf tin.  So useful!  Line one with the bacon so that half of each slice is in the tin and the other half is draping over the sides.  The bacon keeps the terrine together as it cooks and will tighten up as water evaporates from it.

Grind plenty of black pepper into the lined tin.  Next, in a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients by mashing them together with the back of a fork.  A drop of olive oil into the mixture helps to keep it moist.  Tip half of the sausage mixture into the loaf tin and spread it evenly with the fork.  Gently press the apricots into the meat in pairs.  This will ensure that the apricots form part of each slice as you cut the terrine.

Top the apricots with the remaining sausage meat and once again, use the fork to even out the surface.  Now all you have to do is lift each bacon slice to cover the terrine and overlap them to form a parcel.  You can store the terrine as it is in the fridge until you are ready to cook it, or you can cook it immediately.

Place the terrine in a roasting tin and pour enough hot water into the surrounding tin to reach almost the top of the terrine.  Cover the loaf tin with foil and keep the edges sealed tightly.  Place in the middle of the oven at 180C for an hour.  The water surrounding the loaf tin will ensure even cooking and the foil will trap steam to help cook the meat without drying it out.

After an hour, remove the foil and continue to cook the terrine until the bacon on top is nicely done to your liking.  Using oven gloves, lift the loaf tin out of the water and drain of the excess fat rendered through cooking.  You may want to keep this fat and roast some potatoes in it later!  The meat will have shrunk away from the edges of the tin; this is normal.  Use a pair of tongs to turn the meat over.  Keep the meat in the little loaf tin and return it to the oven to brown and crisp up.

Once done, remove the meat and let it cool for quite some time.  When it is cooled, it will be firm and easy to slice.  Serve the terrine cold with a nice Christmas chutney.  You don’t have any Christmas chutney?  No problem.  Watch this space!

 

I will raise you as my own.

The English have big love for pies.  Sweet or savoury, pies are well represented on English plates.  I’ve made fruit pies sprinkled with sugar and I’ve made pies filled with meat and gravy, but I’ve never attempted a pork pie.  The classic buffet and picnic pie of choice for the English has always been something of a mystery to me.  Probably made by wisened old artisans whose knowledge of pie-making has been inherited and protected with the kind of secrecy alluded to in low-brow Templar fiction.  Or are they mass-produced vehicles for the less palatable parts of a pig?  It was time to learn something new and in the process, perhaps make something special.

First of all, what’s the appeal of a good pork pie?  The pastry is special.  A golden brown with an attractive glaze and a crumbly promise of savoury comfort.  Okay, too poetic, but pork pies are made with a hot water crust that contains lard.  This makes it tasty and gives it a wonderful texture upon baking.  The pastry is pressed against the sides of whatever it is baked in to form walls.  The walls get higher until they are ready to be filled.  Raising the pastry in this way produces what is known as a hand-raised pie.

Secondly, pork pies are good when they’re hot and even better when they’re cold.  Pickles, chutneys and relishes are fantastic with pork pies and the fact that their contents doesn’t ooze out makes them a perfect travel companion.

I looked at a few online recipes for the pastry before I attempted to make it.  In the end, I chose to use Delia Smith’s recipe for the pastry.  The contents of the pie, however, were a very successful little experiment and as I type, I’m finding it very difficult to contain my pride.  If you want a treat, go and buy a Melton Mowbray pork pie.  If you want to experience the joy of creating something tasty and beautiful (in the most rustic of ways), then it’s about time you made your very own hand-raised pork pie.

Hand-raised sausage & bacon pies

(Pastry adapted from Delia Smith)

225g strong white flour

75g lard

25ml milk

pinch of salt

black pepper

1 egg yolk (to glaze)

(For the filling)

275g sausage meat

6 slices smoked bacon

150g smoked ham

1 tspoon fish sauce

half tspoon ground allspice

half tspoon ground mace

black pepper

pinch of salt

It’s best to make the filling first so that you can work quickly with the pastry before it dries out.

I fried the bacon until crispy and then mixed it with the rest of the ingredients until well combined.  If you want to check the seasoning, you can fry a little of the filling and taste it once cooked.

As in Delia’s recipe for the pastry, begin by heating the milk and lard in a pan.  Add 25ml of water and bring everything just to the boil.  Pour it into a bowl containing the flour and use a wooden spoon to combine everything.

Now it’s time to build up the pastry crust ready to be filled.  I used little stainless steel pudding moulds.  I pressed a little ball of pastry into the base and began adding more pastry and forming the sides of the pie.  When I got to the top, I overlapped the edges and filled the pies with the filling, making sure that I pressed down firmly using the back of a spoon.  Once level, I folded the edges of the pastry in and made a little hole for steam to escape through during baking.

I used the beaten egg yolk to glaze the top of each pie before sliding them into the oven at 180C for half an hour.  I then carefully removed the pies from the molds, glazed the sides with more yolk and put them back on a baking tray to finish in the oven for another twenty-five minutes.  This made the crust golden and firm.

The pie filling looks quite pink in the photographs, but this is just the bacon.  I can assure you that the pies were firm and fully cooked through.  Their spicing was just right and the crumbly pastry was delicious.  I ate mine with lots of Branston pickle.  One thing’s for sure, I’ll be making these at Christmas and serving them with lots of chutney, cheese and some strong red wine.  Then in the spring, they’ll be coming with me to the beach and the park for some picnic action.  All in all, I’m glad I tried my hand at making these.  You will be too!

Joy on a plate.

You’ve just created something and it’s really good.  It’s so good that you want to jump and laugh and shout out, so you do.  Then you want to go and tell someone, show someone and point at what you’ve created and exclaim, “Look what I made!”  Joy is kindled.

As an adult, there seem to be fewer and fewer of those moments.  Children seem to be constantly in the throes of creation and discovery is just around every ordinary corner.  Imagine the reaction I just wrote about happening in my kitchen about a year ago.  I’d just finished making barbecue ribs without the help of a book, a friend, or that white page with the little box for you to type in a question and click enter.  I’d just finished making barbecue ribs, I did it on my own, they were wondrous and they were mine.  Now I’m going to share the recipe for them.

My recipe for sweet and sticky barbecue ribs is tailor-made for domestic kitchens.  I know that you can get amazing results by cooking outside and getting so much smoke and flavour from blah blah blah.  Let’s get a cab and head for Real Street.  I live in a wet and windy part of the world with only glimpses of sunshine and a default setting of grey with a chance of greyer.  If you’re blessed enough to live in the sun and are adept at cooking outdoors, then…can I come and stay with you for a while?

The ribs require two hours of uninterrupted cooking, so plan ahead.  You’ll also have to trust me on a couple of things; namely the amount of sugar in the recipe.  I used all the things that I love for the ribs.  You could easily adapt the recipe for your own taste.

Sweet & sticky barbecue ribs

1 sheet of pork ribs

500g light brown sugar

40g garlic salt

1 tblspoon chilli flakes

half cup water

(For the glaze)

4 tblspoons clear honey

2 tblspoons dark soy sauce

3 tblspoons barbecue sauce

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.  Place the ribs in a roasting tin ready for the rub.  Pour the garlic salt and the chilli flakes into a pestle and mortar and grind for a few minutes.  Rub this all over the ribs including the underside, making sure to be thorough.  Next, tip all of the sugar onto the top of the ribs and pat it down so that you have a thick layer of sugar on top with no meat uncovered.  I’m serious, trust me!

Pour the water into the bottom of the roasting tin (not over the ribs).  The water is going to help steam the meat during cooking.  This will keep it moist and soft.  Cover the roasting tin with two layers (or more) of foil and make a tight seal around the outside.  We don’t want any of that wonderful steam to escape.

Cook in the centre of the oven for two hours.  Don’t be tempted to take a peek lest all that steam disappear.

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About five minutes before the ribs are due out of the oven, mix all the glaze ingredients together with a pastry brush in a little pot or ramekin.  Take the ribs out of the oven and carefully remove the foil.  Fire up your grill (or broiler if you’re from over the pond) ready for the final part.  The ribs will now be cooked through, but looking rather pale and sad.  Time to glaze!

Place the ribs on another tray lined with foil.  Brush the ribs with the glaze and put them under the grill on a medium heat.  As the glaze sets, remove the ribs and brush them with more glaze.  Continue to do this until you run out of glaze.  The idea is to build up sticky layers.  It won’t be long before the sugar in the glaze caramelizes and begins to burn at the edges giving you lovely crispy bits and oodles of flavour.  Did I just say oodles?  Hmmm…I’ve not seen that in type before.  Anyway, don’t panic if edges begin to burn.  A little here and there is perfect.  Just keep a close eye on the ribs because sugar burns quickly.

That’s it!  Done!  Now you just need to cut them up for your friends and soak up the silence as everyone tucks in.  There’s nothing like the slience that settles upon a table of happy eaters.  It’s up there with “Look what I made!”

Thank you for the days.

Alas, the pulled pork in my fridge is now gone.  Every last delicious strand.  It was with some sadness that I put the last of it inside some mini tortillas for lunch.  I spread cream cheese with garlic and herbs on the tortilla, piled the pulled pork high and topped it off with plenty of tomato salsa.

If you’ve read previous posts, you’ll know that I’m just a little enamoured of fresh coriander.  Just a little!  I had to finish the tortillas off with a sprinkling of it.  As soon as I’d taken the photograph, I proceeded to hide the pork under a green mountain of the stuff to the point that it looked like a salad.  Some readers have asked for an alternative to coriander recently.  For simple recipes like this, freshly chopped oregano works well, but obviously it brings a different flavour to the dish.

I’ll be cooking some more meat in the next week or so, starting with my ultimate recipe for perfect barbecue ribs.  Until then, I’ll have fond memories of the pulled pork and the joy it has brought to my plate each day.  Pulled pork, we (me and my stomach) salute you.

Cherry chipotle pulled pork rolls.

“You’re gonna cook pork in Cherry Coke?”, my brother exclaimed.  “Why would you do that?”  Well, my little well-meaning bro, because it’s gonna taste great!  As you may have gathered, I’m a big brisket fan and I get quite excited at the prospect of cooking large pieces of meat over long periods of time.  I usually build up to these moments.  I’ll spend a few weeks just cooking regular meals and pottering around with sauces, cakes, bread and other recipes.  Then, I begin to get an idea in my head about the next slow-cooked meat dish and I think through all of the details and ingredients.  When it’s all clear in my head, I set a date, and that, my friends, is when I know that I won’t rest until that dish is cooked.  Today is that day.

When my dear brother comes round to visit (and therefore, to eat), I cook meat.  G is a big food fan, but has a special place in his stomach for meat.  He keeps his emotions well hidden for the most part, but meat can move him.  I’ve been planning to make some pulled pork and when I had a look online, I saw what could be the most comforting pulled pork recipe ever.  It won’t surprise you to learn that it came from The Pioneer Woman.  Being a southern girl, her recipe calls for Dr. Pepper, but I’ve always been a Cherry Coke kinda fella.  I figured that a good glug of Cherry Cola would be just the ticket for a big shoulder of pork.

So then, got my three-month old boy in his car seat, windows down and we drove over the hill towards the butcher’s with The Goonies chase theme playing just loud enough that he could sleep and daddy could feel giddy.  I got 1.5kg of pork, a bottle of Cherry Coke and hopped back in the car with a huge grin on my face.  Back home, it was less than five minutes before a lot of pork and plenty of flavour was in the oven for the long haul.

Once it was done, I decided to use it in a rather unexpected way.  I made little filo rolls!  I reckon these could be made in miniature and served as a starter.

So with a nod to The Pioneer Woman, I present one of the tastiest ways to enjoy pork shoulder.  I have a feeling that I’ll be posting another recipe or two this week using the pulled pork, unless I eat it all in one night, that is!

Cherry chipotle pulled pork rolls (pulled pork adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

1.5kg pork shoulder

500ml Cherry Coke

2 onions (quartered)

200g chipotles in adobo sauce

filo pastry

melted butter

salt

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The meat needs to cook for six hours, so start early!  Spread the onions on the bottom of a casserole and place the meat on top.  Rub plenty of salt onto the pork and then pour the chipotles over it.  Rub the sauce over the pork with the back of a spoon and then tip all of the Cherry Coke over it.  That bad boy is ready for the oven; 150 degrees Celsius for six hours.  It’s a good idea to turn the meat every hour or so to let all of that flavourful loveliness get into it.

When the pork is done, remove it from the gravy and use two forks to shred the soft meat.  Put all of the meat back in gravy and mix well.  I found that there was enough meat to soak up the gravy and my butcher had trimmed most of the fat of the pork.  This meant that I didn’t have to skim off excess fat from the gravy.  You may have to, depending on how fatty the cut of meat is.

Obviously, it’s gonna be hard to resist eating some of the pork, but once you’ve done that, move onto preparing the rolls.  Place a sheet of filo on a dry work top and gently score down the middle using a plastic spatula.  This will create two lengths that you can roll up.  Brush melted butter over the entire piece of filo and then spoon a generous amount of the pork at one end of the pastry.  Begin to roll the pastry up and gently tuck in the sides as you go.  Place the rolls gently onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and brush with more melted butter.  Cook them for thirty minutes at 190 degrees Celsius on the middle shelf until golden.

It’s up to you how many you make.  With 1.5kg of boneless pork shoulder, you could make one heck of a lot!  I made six good-sized rolls with a generous amount of pork inside.  That’s because I’ve got plans for the remaining pulled pork and filo pastry.  I served the rolls with a little salad and a cool dollop of mayo.  My word, I was a happy lad.  Don’t worry, I saved a few for my little brother.  He ain’t heavy…but a he will be after a few of these beauties!

Vitamin P.

I’m so excited!  Tomorrow is pulled pork day (and night)!  That means I’ll be making use of my chipotles and hopefully creating something very special indeed.  I’m planning to cook the pork low and slow.  If I begin early enough, I’ll still have enough light to photograph the results and share some deliciousness with you.  I’m gonna be having lots of dreams about slow-cooked meat and the resulting gravy tonight.  As Allegra Mcevedy puts it, every family needs a good dose of “Vitamin P”.  Until then, my friends in food…

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Any pork in a storm.

As I write to you now, sheets of heavy rain are being whipped, driven and lashed against every single exterior surface of our house.  Garden furniture is rolling in different directions and the dog is doing her best to look casual, when in fact, she’s clearly cowering underneath the dining table.  So much for summer.  Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the North West of England.

In sunnier climes, families and friends are discussing what is on the barbecue and whether or not there will be enough potato salad for everyone.  Sigh.  What I need is some sunshine.  Instead, the bellowing storm is deafening the dog and threatening to tear away the side of our home to reveal each room like a giant dolls’ house.  Armadillo eggs to the rescue!

Armadillo what?  You heard me right!  I was surfing the web (there has to be a better phrase) and came across a recipe for Armadillo eggs.  Delving further, I found an abundance of recipes each with their own take on what is a common appetizer at American barbecues in the South West.  They’re actually jalapenos stuffed with cheese and baked in an oven.  Some recipes call for bacon to be wrapped around the outside of the pepper, others instruct you to mix cheese and sausage meat and use it to stuff the jalapeno before baking.  With so many opinions on what makes an Armadillo egg, I decided to create my own version.  Yeehaw!  Ahem.  They turned out very well and brought some well-needed comfort to me and one rather frightened fluffy friend.

Armadillo eggs

375g sausage meat

165g sweet peppers

130g Cheddar cheese

100g cream cheese

1 green chili (finely chopped)

1 tspoon smoked paprika

I began by mixing together the cream cheese with half of the grated Cheddar.  I used a sharp Cheddar that would give the filling lots of flavour.  In another bowl, I put the sausage meat, chopped chili, smoked paprika and the rest of the grated Cheddar and  squeezed it all with my hands until I was satisfied that it was completely mixed.  This would be the coating for the Armadillo eggs.

I didn’t use jalapenos for this recipe.  Instead, I used a jar of Peppadew peppers.  They’re small and sweet and red and are just made for stuffing!  They are available with more heat and also stuffed with cream cheese, but I don’t like the idea of cream cheese that’s been sitting in vinegar for weeks.  I drained the sweet little beauties and began to take bits of the cream cheese and Cheddar mixture to fill each pepper.  This was quite easy because the Cheddar gives the cream cheese more body and it is easy to handle.

Once the peppers were full and all the cheese used, it was time for the tricky bit.  I thought that packing each pepper in sausage meat would be a doddle, but it took a little time and patience.  My first attempt was the size of a cricket ball.  After a few, they were looking more like meatballs, which is what I was aiming for.  I found that wetting my hands made it easier to handle the meat and stopped it sticking to my hands and breaking up.  My technique was to take some sausage meat, press it onto my palm, place a pepper on it cheese side down and then bring up the sides and mold it gently around.  Like I said, the first few weren’t great, but you kind of get a rhythm going by number five.  In the end, I made twenty Armadillo eggs.

I placed them gently onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.  I love using baking paper because foil often rips easily or sticks to meat.  Also, baking paper is an excellent barrier against grease and let’s face it, with sausage meat, there’s gonna be plenty of that around.

I cooked them in the oven, middle shelf at 170 degrees Celsius for thirty minutes.  They didn’t even need to be turned.  For once, I was patient and waited until they were slightly cooler before tucking in.  They certainly banished the stormy weather for a while.  I’ve kept some of my Armadillo eggs in the fridge- the weather forecast for tomorrow isn’t good.

On the menu this week.

Aside

Making the fritters and meatballs was fun and I hope you enjoy the recipes.  What next?  Well, I think a home-made pizza is on the cards and something a little different too.

Also, I bought some filo pastry the other day and I’m not sure what will come of that.  Any ideas?

Twice cooked pork.

As enjoyable as a dish might be, it is rare for me to want to eat the same meal two days in a row.  It would have to be very special or pizza or both for me to consider it.  Having roasted up a treat with the jerk pork, I had the task of eating my way through quite a lot of meat.  What could I do with meat that was already cooked?  Sandwiches?  Yes, some pork with chutney or apple sauce would be good, but not for dinner.

In Szechuan cuisine, there is a dish cooked on lunar feast days called twice cooked pork in which boiled pork belly is sliced thinly and fried with vegetables to create a new dish.  The roasted pork had a lovely, firm, yet moist texture that I thought would be ideal for slicing and frying.  Before I knew it, I was quartering onions and reaching for my big bottle of Thai sweet chilli sauce.  I’m not talking about something that looks like it came from a hotel mini bar with a blue dragon on the front.  I’m talking about a big daddy bottle of the real deal.  Tonnes of garlic, beautiful chillies and a very runny texture.  All at a fraction of the price, I might add.  Once done, I made some egg fried rice and tucked in.  I’ve found a new favourite in this dish.  It’s simple and ready in five or six minutes.  If only everything in life was such.

Thin slices fry quickly.

Twice cooked pork.

Thin slices of roasted pork

2 onions quartered

Handful of fresh coriander (chopped)

2 tblspoons vegetable oil

Enough Thai sweet chilli sauce to coat the pork

Slicing the pork was fun.  I then cut it into pieces ready for frying.  I heated up the oil in a wok until it was almost smoking and then threw in the pork.  I was greeted with a satisfying hiss and lots of spitting as the water in the pork made contact.  I added the onion, tossed it together and poured in four seconds worth of chilli sauce which was enough to satisfy my craving for sweet and spicy fun and sufficiently cover the pork.  I added the chopped coriander which gave the dish nice colour and freshness.

This dish ticks all of my boxes for a quick and tasty meal.  I’ve said that I don’t like to eat the same meal on consecutive days, but I might make an exception in this case.

The flavours in this dish are really fresh.

Jerk pork roast.

Wonderful friends of ours live a couple of hours away and have access to numerous varieties of ethnic cuisine.  Thriving ethnic communities with distinct identities and sumptuous food culture pepper the residential areas close by and allow my friends the option of sampling these delights every now and again.  One place that they rave about on account of the “amazing gravy”, has become a by-word for spice and home-cooked soul food and I haven’t even been there!  I was the grateful recipient of a jar of their sauce which can be used in a number of ways including as the base for a rich and spicy gravy.

As I said, my cultured friends of food live a couple of hours away and I’m not prepared to drive there and back every time I run out of this special sauce.  That was part of the motivation behind my attempt to create a really strong marinade that could perhaps take the place of the amazing gravy.  It’s taken a few weeks of trial and error, but I think I’ve made a recipe for a very potent and versatile sauce.  It’s easy to make and I reckon it would work with chicken as well as pork.

Jerk pork roast.

1-1.5kg pork shoulder

110g soft light brown sugar

As much all spice powder as you can stand

8 cloves garlic

1 bunch spring onions (chopped)

2 red chillies (chopped)

Large chunk of fresh root ginger

2 tblspoons soy sauce

2 tspoons salt

1/2 tspoon cinnamon

1/2 tspoon ground nutmeg

I used a hand blender to combine all of the ingredients into a thick, strong-smelling mixture.  I made cuts into the pork and wore a pair of gloves to rub the mixture into it.  The combination of garlic and chillies have the potential to really make your hands stink so it’s worth wearing some thin plastic gloves.  I made sure that the sauce was worked into every part of the meat and I left a really thick covering all over.  I wrapped the whole shoulder in cling film and put it in the fridge for twenty-four hours.

I brought the meat back up to room temperature for an hour before cooking.  I roasted the pork uncovered at 230 degrees for half an hour and then lowered the temperature to 160 degrees.  I cooked it for another hour.  Normally, I would have taken the meat out after an hour and a half or so.  However, the sun was blazing and the dog needed walking and I had to think quickly.  I turned the oven down to 75 degrees and went out.  When I got back an hour later, I tentatively lifted the pork out of the oven and inspected it.  Sure enough, it had a thick, black, crusty coating as I’d hoped.  The sugar had caramelized to form a casing over the meat and had prevented flavoursome juices from escaping.  There was hardly anything in the bottom of the roasting tin so it was lucky that I hadn’t planned on making gravy from the pan juices.  Upon cutting into the pork I found it was cooked all the way through and luxuriously moist!  I’ve included an exclamation mark there because I was genuinely surprised.  I’d expected the meat to be dried out and tough.

Ready to be carved.

Carving the pork was a joy and I dished it up with roasted sweet potatoes and sweetcorn.  I don’t know if it’s authentic, but it was very tasty.  I cut off some of the fat from the pork into strips and threw them in with the sweet potatoes to crisp them up and add flavour.  I have to say, that I’m looking forward to using the marinade on some chicken thighs and serving them with rice.

Crispy pork crackling and roasted sweet potatoes!